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Roger
Roger, Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 31561
Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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I paid for my ex-wifes gas to bring our three children to see

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I paid for my ex-wifes gas to bring our three children to see me in philidelphia and also provided her a hotel room to stay in while I had the children. However, she did not meet me there or bring our children there. The last custody agreement stated that she had to pay 1/2 for every trip that I had to take because she took our kids to another state on her own w/o having the original custody regulation. So she took the money for gas and then did not bring the kids up like we had agreed on. What can I do?

Roger : Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a Family Law litigation attorney. Thanks for your question. I'll be glad to assist.
Customer:

ok

Roger : Does the custody agreement state that she must bring the children to you?
Customer:

are you there?

Customer:

meet 1/2 way.

Roger : Ok. So, she was supposed to meet you halfway, and you paid her to meet and she didn't, correct?
Customer:

I want to fight again to get my kids back, but I just think I will lose again. I feel like the legal system is making it so hard to raise my kids, and leaving them vulnerable to life

Customer:

yes

Roger : Ok, thanks. I just want to make sure I understand what the order says as it appears that she's in violation of the order based on what you've said.
Customer:

correct, but she was in violation the first decree also when she took the kids out of state.

Roger : In that case, the best thing you can do is file a motion for contempt with the court and ask the judge to hold her in contempt.
Roger : If the judge finds that she is in contempt, he/she can order her to comply and also fine or even jail her for violating the order.
Roger : Also, if you want to seek to modify the custody order/seek primary custody, you would need to have a material change in circumstances to warrant a change.
Customer:

what is a material change?

Roger : The fact that she took the children and moved out of state should certainly be a material change in circumstances.
Roger : A material change is anything that affects the children or parents, or any change that affects visitation or custody.
Roger : This could be a move, a remarriage, a new job that makes it difficult for a parent to keep up the current custody order, physical abuse by a parent, alcohol/substance abuse, etc.
Customer:

So, If I wanted to get her back into the state the divorce was finalized in, what should I do? The second time it didn't work for me, because she got to stay in North Carolina. I want to be able to be part of my childrens lives.

Customer:

It seems like the legal system is supporting a isolation of the father figure from the child (btw, no abuse or any issues on either side)

Roger : The same court the divorce was handled in should maintain jurisdiction as long as you're a resident of that state/county (since she's gone - you would still need to be there).
Roger : You would have to file a motion with that court and have her served and notified to appear.
Customer:

this is the same circle that I tried when she left the first time. why do the courts seem to favor in the mothers case? Any other tips to get it swayed in my favor?

Roger : It's not supposed to be that way, but you're right that most cases seem to favor the mother for some reason - - maybe it's the historicla concept that mothers take care of children and the fatherr works....
Customer:

So, I reviewed the documents and they state she only has to meet me for the holidays. With that being said, are there any violations since I gave her the gas money to visit and she did not show?

Roger : It's all going to boil down to what the order says.
Roger : If the agreement you made is outside of what the order mandates, then it would not be a violation of the current order - - meaning no contempt.
Roger : HOWEVER, you could still file a motion to modify custody/visitation and tell the judge that you want a change because of things like this occurring.
Roger : The judge could order her to repay you the money you gave her as part of a request to modify custody/visitation, but she would not be in contempt unless she's in violation of a specific term or provision of the order.
Customer:

Ahhh-- that sounds like a start. Do you think I could ask her to pay for the legal costs for the motion and court fees?

Roger : You can ask the court to award you fees and expenses, but there's no right to this - - it would be up to the judge.
Customer:

would that help to document for future modifications?

Roger : Sure. There's nothing wrong with asking for this, but it's just not guaranteed that you will be awarded your costs/fees.
Customer:

yeah more concerned with documenting the behavior and establishing a pattern

Customer:

thanks, XXXXX XXXXX been a good help. I know where to start now.

Roger : Understood.
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